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13 Ideas for 13 Dollar Tattoos on Friday the 13th

Tattoo shops around the world offer scary affordable flash deals on this spooky day.

Jason Voorhees (main slasher of the friday the 13th franchise) with his machete

Friday the 13th conjures plenty of images: broken mirrors, black cats, stepping on cracks and breaking mothers’ backs, crazed killers slowly stalking and murdering over-sexed teens. But for the tattooed among us, it’s also a celebration, an unofficial holiday upon which many tattoo artists offer steep discounts on small flash.

If you’re thinking of participating in this year’s Friday the 13th flash day, there are a few important things to keep in mind before moving forward. 

First: price. Some shops may offer $13 tattoos. But if that’s the case, make sure you have all your shots, because that won’t even cover the ink, to say nothing about the labor and sanitization. Most shops will offer deals in the $50-100 range, though some shops might offer $69 tattoos because they can (and should).

Second: design. Friday the 13th tattoos are supposed to be small and, if not dumb, at least a little silly. Full-stop. Don’t try to get something meaningful like dates or a personal design. In fact, the artists who participate in Friday the 13th specials only offer flash, just so they can crank out work in an efficient manner. So if you’re going to do this, don’t expect anything custom.

How do I know this? I have a lot of tattoos, several of them decidedly not planned out, because impulse control is not in my skill set. But I digress. As long as you pick an artist you like and trust, tattoos don’t have to be loaded with meaning. 

If you’re excited to have someone stick a needle in your skin for 30 to 60 minutes in exchange for a few bucks—including tip!—here are the 13 best Friday the 13th tattoo ideas you can choose from.

The tried and true: the number 13

A 13 on Friday the 13th? Groundbreaking.

Okay, now that my low-hanging Miranda Priestly joke is out of the way: 13 gets a bad reputation, long considered unlucky in many western cultures. Fear of the number 13 is so pervasive that most buildings with enough floors jump straight from 12 to 14.

But 13 is also considered a powerful, even positive, number in numerology, some forms of astrology, and other traditions. The 13th card in the major arcana of the tarot is Death, perhaps the most misunderstood of all the cards, meaning not literal death, but spiritual and emotional transformation and rebirth. Further, there are 13 Buddhas in Shingon Buddhism, a Japanese sect of the religion, and some sources claim that 13 is considered lucky in Chinese culture because it means “assured growth” or “definitely vibrant” in Cantonese and Mandarin.

Or, you know, you could just get it because you’re edgy, or because you like the design. Dealer’s choice!

A candle

Come on, baby, light my fire. Candles are an old standby for Friday the 13th specials. They’re simple, easy to fit on most body parts (including, if you’re so inclined, on the top of your thumb, if you’re my former coworker who had to leave work for “an emergency” and came back with a bleeding, blown out candle tattoo an hour later), and they’re a nice reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is light to guide you.

A skeleton or a skull

What’s spookier than your inside being on the outside? Death is part of life, or maybe you’re a big Hamlet fan, or maybe you’re just a serial killer who likes bones. At any rate, go ahead and put a boney on your body—just make sure they don’t escape from the way, way future to ruin Christmas present.

A pentagram (but please don’t be a jerk about it)

Among the basic Friday the 13th flash sheets, you’ll probably see at least a few pentagrams (also known as pentacles). While this is a pretty contrarian symbol to most people, especially if it’s upside down, it’s actually a common symbol in several major religions. The pentagram was used in Middle Ages and early modern Christianity to symbolize the five wounds of Christ or the five senses. In modern times, it’s (wrongly) associated with satanism and evil by many people. If you don’t respect the symbolism of it, it might be one to avoid; it would be a bit like getting a rosary tattooed somewhere on your body if you weren’t Catholic.

That said, if you practice Wicca or if you respect the symbolism—Spirit and the four earthly elements, or the star of knowledge—go for it. Just maybe don’t show your granny.

Stars

Friday the 13th is like the Leap Year of special days: real life is for the 14th. And what better way to celebrate than to get a cluster of stars, as if to say: shoot for the stars.

The other half of that sentiment? Even if you miss, you’ll be dead, floating in the vacuum of space, so it won’t matter.

Life is short. Burnt bright like a giant, burning ball of gas billions of miles away.

Jason Voorhees’s hockey mask

Because get it? Friday the 13th? No? I’ll see myself out.

But before I do: this has become a popular flash option at shops across the world for obvious reasons. What isn’t so obvious is how different artists interpret the symbol. There have been American traditionalist hockey masks surrounded by flower garlands, simple linework masks, and even sacrilegious takes on the famed slasher’s mask.

A knife

[Extremely Vine voice] Let me see what you have.

[You, with childlike chaos in your voice] A knife!

[Your made-up dialogue companion] No!

Outdated (or timeless? Who’s to say?) Vine reference aside, knives are a tried-and-true Friday the 13th flash option. Whether you choose a regular ol’ dagger or a blade piercing your skin, it’s just aggressive enough to work.

A snake

Misunderstood, often associated with evil, and downright alien, with their muscular, limbless forms, snakes are a great option for a spontaneous tattoo. Depending on the style, whether they’re curled around an object (like an apple, perchance), or curved and coiled, snakes are charming, misunderstood (noticing a theme here?), and a great symbol of death and rebirth. Shed that old skin, baby. Plus, snake tattoos are great fillers for those awkward spots between bigger pieces you haven’t quite figured out how to fill in.

Dice

Because, you know? Lucky dice? On an unlucky day? Yeah? Even better if you show the sides that add up to 13. (Please don’t make me do the math, just count the visible sides of the dice and have your artist count them, and then count them again.)

A black widow, or perhaps a spiderweb if you dare

Weavers of mystery and beauty, often misunderstood and even feared, spiders keep good company with other animals associated with this day. While in many cultures, spiders are seen as a sign of good luck, the fact of the matter is that far too many adult humans are scared of the diminutive arachnids. Creepy-crawly, with eight legs and eight (sometimes twelve!) eyes, these frequent houseguests are loathed to the point that “killing spiders” is a common trope on dating apps.

Which makes them perfect fodder for the person who wants a tattoo of an extremely helpful but seriously misunderstood (and honestly, quite beautiful) creature. Symbolism, y’all. And what better spider than the one who bites off its mate’s head after coitus and has a particularly venomous bite if you cross them? To say nothing about how good that pop of red will look against the deep black ink.

And if you want something a bit more abstract, a bit more elemental, why not a spiderweb? But only if you agree to get it on an elbow or a kneecap. Or else it doesn’t count. And just so you know, those are some of the most painful spots for tattoos. I wouldn’t know from personal experience, though, as I am a baby.

Moon and sun finger tattoos

This is a twofer, if only because finger bangers (lol) are so small and easy to do. Finger tattoos are a bit like permanent jewelry, and what better way to celebrate a night associated with witches and their ilk than to adorn yourself with subtle signs that you’re one of their kind? 

After all, if you don’t have a natural witch’s mark that’ll get you burned at the stake, might as well choose one yourself, especially the sun and moon, two of the most important symbols in many forms of mysticism and witchcraft.

Please, please, please, please, not your partner’s name

Literally get anything on your artist’s flash sheet that catches your eye. Anything. A monkey? Sure! Why not? Or how about a rose? Or a little fist holding up a middle finger? Just promise me and your bestie and your mom and your priest: No. Significant. Others. I don’t care if you’ve been with them for 10 years. Do not do it. Do not get their full name, do not get their first name, do not get their initials. Unless you’re my partner. Then feel free to brand “LD” on your inner thigh.

Bonus: flash that reflects the artist’s unique style

What, you thought I was going to leave it at 13 suggestions? Hell no, I’m not taking any chances.

At any rate, look: not every artist who participates in Friday the 13th is going to draw up spooky flash or American-traditional-style pieces. And in fact, the more artists working outside of the American-traditional aesthetic that participate, the more people who want silly, cheap tattoos can participate. So look for an artist whose style you like and hope and pray that they’re doing flash today so you can get a kawaii rabbit or Bender from Futurama.

At the end of the day, what you choose to get tattooed on your body is highly personal. If you want to get a Dickbutt permanently inked on your left ass cheek, that is between you and your artist. And possibly a therapist at some point. No matter what you choose, just make sure you have aquaphor and antibacterial soap at the ready.

(featured image: Paramount Pictures)

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